The Showing Council Conference Report 2011
The first Showing Council Conference, held on 30th October at The Hinckley Island Hotel, carried the underlying theme of responsibility, both of the societies and their members to pull together for the development and betterment of the Showing industry.
British Equestrian Federation - Andrew Finding
The presentations began with Chief Executive of The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) Andrew Finding who explained how the Showing Council came to be, how they linked to the BEF and what the BEF can do for the Showing Industry. Currently the Showing Council is an associate member of the BEF, to be a full member the Showing Council will have to follow the guide lines issued by the BEF to safeguard their members, this means adhering to an appropriate anti-doping scheme and protecting against the use of any form of illegal substance. Full member status will give the Showing Council the right to apply for funding and give us a vote at BEF meetings.
It was agreed among the floor that the standards of dope testing should be higher.
The Showing Council reported that work is ongoing to develop a ‘one size fits all’ policy but that this is a difficult process and although well underway will take some time to come to fruition. Funding for dope testing is also under review. It was explained that to be taken seriously as a sport, dope testing rules need an overhaul to conform to the high standards set by other sports across the UK. This is something the Showing Council as an umbrella organisation will play a strong part in introducing.
Integrity and Standards in Ponies - Julie Templeton
Julie highlighted the definition of integrity - the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions and standards - morals, ethics and habits, established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.
She explained that as Showing is one of the very few sports that is subjective integrity and standards are so essential and we should all be keen to encourage grass roots members also highlight to new members that when showing it is one person’s opinion. Julie went on to say that ‘for this industry to move forward we need to move away from back biting as this is not what showing is about’. Julie aired her concerns that this behaviour is intensified by internet forums that allow users to comment behind a pseudonym.
From there Julie broke down her presentation into 5 subsections, Riding, Training, Ponies, Production and Judging. Firstly, with Riding, she said how saddened she is that Children of today have missed out on opportunities she may have had in the past, without the safety restrictions. She highlighted the fact that many children rarely have a play pony and a competition pony, they now have one pony to do both. Therefore without the basic learning, try it and see method, it is important to introduce a standard of riding in children at an early age. She also pushed a need to educate parents in the ins and outs of the showing industry. Julie highlighted the need to maintain high standards and pressed that the responsibility lies with the breeders to breed horses and ponies fi t for purpose, adding ‘For this to happen we should be prepared to pay breeders good money for their stock. We also need to encourage the younger generation to breed top quality horses and ponies’.
Julie was keen to convey that the standard of production is getting higher across the board but highlighted that it is the responsibility of the producer to keep in place a code of conduct, Julie said ‘everyone is setting themselves up as a ‘show team’ however does everyone have the Knowledge, Experience, Accreditation, correct Insurance and Child Protection with a CRB certificate in place along with first aid knowledge and of course results?’
She stressed the need for the continued professional development of producers to lead the way for everyone else.
She then went on to speak about a wrong leg versus bad confirmation – she posed the question:’ is a wrong leg that is a training & rider error worse than bad confirmation, which stays with the horse for life?’ a question that may pose lots of debate. Julie went on to say that fair judging is what is going to keep the industry alive and her comments on the need to review the marks system, especially the adding up, was met with general agreement from the floor.
Evolution of the Native Pony - Mathew Lawrence & Lizzie Briant
Next to take to the podium were Matthew Lawrence and Lizzie Briant, who together created a presentation about the evolution of the native pony. Matthew began by stating that native ponies are bred to do a job and should all be capable of doing this job today. He expressed the importance of breeding in the correct environment, and maintained that over history the breed type has not changed but conformation has improved. Mathew interestingly highlighted the other breeds that have been introduced into many of the native gene pools, however the Shetland and Exmoor pony are the only breeds that have not been influenced by outside blood.
Matthew expressed the importance of difference in movement, stating that although type of movement may differ all breeds should poses freedom of movement. He left us with the thought provoking question: ‘Are we in danger of seeing all of our native breeds going in the same way?’ Matthew finished with the view that the native ponies of Britain need protecting and it is the job of judges and competitors to protect the breed type and encourage true to type way of going in the show ring.
JMB History, Research and Now - Dr Bertie Ellis Phd
Next up was the enthusiastic presentation by Dr Bertie Ellis from the JMB. Dr Ellis conveyed the difficulties facing vets when it comes to measuring horses, firstly that the withers of a horse is always moving, due to the placement of the shoulder blades and the muscle they measure in between. He expressed the importance of allowing the horse to relax for at least 20 minutes before a measurement is taken. Dr Ellis explained how the research into improving the overall accuracy of horse measuring has changed and improved and said that research is currently being undertaken into laser measurement. Dr Ellis also said that the JMB are continually looking to maintain standards in measuring adding ‘if half the country are travelling to Wales perhaps to get a measurement then there is clearly something going on!’
The JMB are looking into blood testing any horse that has come in for measuring, which would highlight any substances that would affect height.
A Life in Showing - an Interview with Robert Walker
After a break for lunch everyone returned fresh and ready for the second half of the conference. It was kicked off with an Interview with Robert Walker, who spoke plainly and truthfully about himself, his horses and the showing industry. Roberts’s interview debated the possible marks system in HOYS qualifiers, judging as a whole in the horse classes and his family life as Show Horse Producers. The interview was taken by David Ingram of the British Show Horse Association.
Associations Working with Synergy - Paul Hooper
Last of the speakers of the day was Paul Hooper, secretary of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) who spoke on the topic of Associations Working in Synergy. He began by addressing that fact that we are living in a claim culture and the job of the show organisers to be prepared for that. He went on to say that the job of the agricultural show is to educate the public and to help bridge the urban and rural divide. To aid this Paul highlighted two things for societies to think about, first of which was to provide a short list of judges for them to pick from, this would perhaps help societies to provide a range of judges though out the year. Secondly he suggested the thought of judge’s commentary in the ring. Paul highlighted the key role of the Showing Council to get all of these societies working together, especially on the topic of cheating and illegal substances.
‘I personally thought the speakers were thought provoking and it was an opportunity for members and professionals whose businesses and leisure rely on the decisions of their member societies, to attend and express their views of how they see the future of this really exciting industry. The Show World embraces every equestrian at every level, from Breeders to International riders. The rider of the HOYS Working Hunter was an excellent example’ - Davina Whiteman, vice chairman of the Showing Council.